Erik Homburger Erikson
Born: June 15, 1902,
Died: May 12, 1994, Harwich,
Massachusetts, United States
Education: University of Vienna
Spouse: Joan Erikson
Awards: Pulitzer Prize for
General Non-Fiction, Jefferson
Lecture, National Book Award
for Philosophy and Religion
Erik Homburger Erikson was a German-born
psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychosocial
development of human beings. He maybe most
famous for coining the phrase identity crisis.
He first published his
eight stage theory of
human development in
Childhood and Society.
included in the chapter
entitled “The Eight Ages
He expanded and refined his theory in later books
and revisions, mainly:
Identity and the Life Cycle (1959)
Insight and Responsibility (1964)
The Life Cycle Completed: A Review (1982), revised 1996 by Joan
Vital Involvement in Old Age (1989)
Similar to theory of Freud, Erikson believed that
personality develops in a series of stages.
But unlike the Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages,
Erikson’s theory describes the impact of social
experience across the whole life-span.
What differs to the work of Erikson to Freud is the
element of which gave emphasis on the development
of ego identity.
Ego identity is the conscious sense of self that we
develop through social interaction.
According to Erikson, our ego identity constantly
changes due to new experiences and information
that we acquire in our daily interactions with other
individuals in our environment.
Furthermore, Erikson also established a belief that a
sense of competence also motivates behaviors and
Erikson’s theory implies that each stage concerns with
becoming competent in an area of life.
If the stage is handled well, the person will feel a
sense of mastery.
If the stage is managed poorly , the person will feel a
sense of inadequacy.
the Eight Stages
of Human Development
Erikson’s psychosocial term is derived from the two
source words- namely psychological (or the root,
psycho relating to the mind, brain, personality, etc.)
and social (external relationships and environment).
Erikson’s theory was largely influenced by Sigmund
Freud. But Erikson extended the theory and
incorporated cultural and social aspects into Freud's
biological and sexually-oriented theory.
The theory is a basis for broad or complex discussion
and analysis of personality and behavior and also for
understanding and facilitating personal development
of self and others.
It can help the teacher in becoming more
knowledgeable and at the same time understanding
of the various environmental factors that affect his
own and his students’ personality and behavior.
Erikson’s eight stages theory is a tremendously
powerful model because his theory is useful for
teaching, parenting, self-awareness, managing and
coaching, dealing with conflict and generally for
understanding self and others.
The Epigenetic Principle. As Boeree, “this priciple says that
we develop through a predetermined unfolding of our
personalities in eight stages . Our progress through each
stage is in part determined by our success, or lack of success,
in all the previous stages.
C. George Boeree
- American psychologist
- Born: January 15, 1952 (age 61)
Epigenetic theory is an emergent theory of
development that includes both the genetic origins
environmental forces have, over time, on the
expression of those genes. The theory focuses on the
dynamic interaction between these two influences
Each stages involves a psychosocial crisis of two
opposing emotional forces. A helpful term used by
Erikson for these opposing forces is contrary
Each crises stages relates to a corresponding life
stage and its inherent challenges. Erikson used the
words syntonic for the first listed positive disposition
in each crises (e.g., Trust) and dystonic for the
second- listed negative disposition (e.g., Mistrust).
He used the word versus to signify the opposing
relationship between each pair of dispositions.
If a stage is managed well , we carry away a certain
virtue or psychosocial strength which will help us
through the rest of the stages of our life.
Successfully passing through each crises involves
achieving a healthy ratio or balance between the two
opposing dispositions that represent each crisis.
On the other hand, if we don’t do so well, we may
develop maladaptation and malignancy , as well as
endanger all our future development.
A malignancy is the worse of the two. If involves too
little of the positive and too much of the negative
aspect of the task, such as a person who can’t trust
A maladaptation is not quite as bad and involves too
much of the positive and too little of the negative, such
as a person who trusts too much.
Erikson also emphasized the significance of mutuality and
generativity in his theory. The terms are linked . Mutuality
reflects the effect of generations on each other, especially
among families, and particularly between parents and
children and grand children.
Generativity, actually a named disposition within one of the
stages (Generativity vs Stagnation), reflects the significant
relationship between adults and the best interests of
Children need to develop a sense of personal control over
physical skills and a sense of independence. Success leads to
feeling of autonomy, failure results in feeling of shame and
A sort of shameless willfulness that leads you in later
childhood and even adulthood to jump into things without
proper consideration of your abilities.
Too much shame and doubt. The compulsive person feels as
if their entire being rides on everything they do and so
everything they do and so everything must be done
Children need to begin asserting control and power over
the environment. Success in this stage leads to a sense of
purpose. Children who try to exert too much power
experience disapproval resulting in a sense of guilt.
To be heartless or unfeeling or to be “without mercy”
The inhibited person will not try things because nothing
ventured, nothing lost, and particularly nothing to feel
The capacity for action despite a clear understanding of
your limitations and past failings.